Sunday, August 11, 2013

Friendly Skies, ha!

Well. That was just the biggest dang…snafoozle… (I love making up words…) of a travel day I’ve ever had the displeasure of muddling through. Here’s the play-by-play:

--The ridiculous chain of events began when I received an email shortly after waking up at the hotel, informing me that Southwest had pushed our flight back…by 2-1/2 hours. Huh. No rush to check out, then.

--Next, we headed to the airport to turn in our rental car and print our boarding passes. However, the self-serve kiosk refused to comply with my simple request to GIVE US OUR STUPID LITTLE PIECES OF PAPER THAT WILL LET US ON THE PLANE… PREFERABLY RIGHT NOW!. (I was hungry and tired and already getting a little stressed, can you tell?) Although it recognized all four of us and acknowledged that yes, we should be flying today, it Just. Wouldn’t Freakin’. Cooperate.

--Turns out that Southwest had changed not only the departure time, but the flight number…and the connecting city. Reaaaalllllly? Was all of that strictly necessary? But the nice employee handed us those golden entry slips, so we merrily (or at least…without smacking anyone…) continued on our way.

--At Security, our bag was flagged for some reason, and a TSA official politely decided it would require a manual inspection. “Must be a large tube of toothpaste,” he assured me as he rifled through my toiletries. “Um, that would be quite a surprise to me,” I replied, “since we don’t carry any of those…” (the—fortunately unspoken--subtext being: “Because I’ve done this before and know how to pack, DUH!” My attitude, sad to say, was not improving noticeably…) He shrugged and chose to examine the exactly-3-ounce-sunscreens I purposefully purchased for our trip, in order to comply with regulations. Sigh.

--Now we had 2-hours until our delayed flight. As we waited, I got several more pieces of electronic correspondence from Southwest, changing our gate of departure. (These turned out to be completely erroneous, so we ignored them.)

--While sitting around watching the chaos that is Southwest territory, we noticed the exact moment when our plane pulled up…at nearly the time we were supposed to be taking off. So they hurriedly herded the arriving passengers out, did whatever they needed to do to get ready for a lightning-fast turnaround, then shuffled us on. What a disaster.

--Of course, this postponed our departure time once more, impacting those of us who needed to complete yet another delightful leg of our journey by catching a plane in Chicago. I’m not kidding, when we landed, the flight crew advised us to “hustle” to our next gate. When we checked the local time, we had 10 minutes to travel about a half-mile at a…shall we say “brisk pace”…while dragging our luggage. Husband and I actually laughed at the absurdity of the situation, but the kids were a little freaked. Oh, and this precluded any thoughts of getting dinner in between, so our evening repast consisted of Chex Mix for the boys, and the complimentary peanut-packs for me. Yummmm.

--At long, loooooong last, we touched down safely at BWI…almost 2 hours past our original scheduled arrival time, at 11:45 p.m. We still had to take the Shuttle to Long Term Parking and retrieve our car, then drive home. Yep, bed at 1 a.m., just the way to end a trip, right?

As unpleasant as the whole messed up day was, I learned several valuable lessons from the experience. First, of course, is the incontrovertible fact: One should never EVER fly Southwest (and trust me, Team WestEnders will NOT do so again.) Secondly, it seemed abundantly clear—to me, at least—that California reaallllly wanted me to stay. It pains me to have defied the Universe’s decree, but I can only say in my defense that I hope the next time we go back….will be for good…and on a different airline, to be sure!

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